observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Adapt or Die

First off.
This is not a gripe blog. The point of this thing is to facilitate an exchange of intelligent ideas. Posts and comments should be respectful. If you want to get some sh*t off your chest go to a Byron Crawford type blog.

My pops reads this so please keep it somewhat clean and respectful.

Readers know what has dominated the SCR for the past 2 months.
I found it interesting that many of the comments were attempting to prove one theory right and the other wrong. In my years I have found that to be a fruitless intellectual effort. The more you try and tell someone they are wrong the more they will resist. And on this issue of Weezy/JJ/Jeezy versus Hova and Nasir the conversation devolved into just that.

The reality is that both sides are right. What is really Hip-Hop is the freedom to express contrary ideas in the face of adversity. And if you think Jeezy is the next big thing then throw on your snowman T-shirt and get busy. If you believe 30 is the new 20 then hem your pants and go to it. Agree to disagree and wish each other luck. A dog eat dog mentality will have the whole culture in the toilet.

I think the central point we are debating is adapt or die. Change with the times or get left behind.

The ‘adapt or die’ is a theory that has proven itself again and again in nature and in business. Trying to hold on to what was is a recipe for disaster. Whether you are IBM or the three toed sloth. In this argument proponents of the young guns are claiming older artists are inhibiting change as their careers' fade. Step aside and make way for change is their claim. This argument has legs, no doubt.

But what is also clear is that they are some (including myself) who feel that this old MC's are evolving and their current as well as back catalog have something to offer. And that audience must be factored into the equation.

Not only must the consumer adapt or die but also the market must. For example, the industry's inability to adapt to the digital revolution has already dealt a death blow. We have all seen the numbers and the subsequent bankruptcies (physical sales dropping like a rock, major retailers shutting their doors, major labels closing departments).

The digital age has brought more than iTunes. As Chris Anderson writes in The Long Tail the digital age has unearthed various niches that were historically ignored. And in our old school/new school debate we have begun to hear more from the 'old fart, purist, old school Hip-Hop’ niche. When the major outlets like MTV and Hot 97 were dominating media it was easy to define the Hip-Hop audience. It was the young people, the same people who historically drive pop culture. But digital technologies like satellite radio, Google, YouTube and Amazon have given a voice to our new niche. We now have outlets where we can purchase, listen and discuss these issues. So while historically Hip-Hop has been led by youth culture an older demographic is entering the marketplace. Not with the same buying power but with significant power nonetheless.

Other industries have identified this market as well. I know this first hand as we work on the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival 2007. Over the past 2 years we have been able to establish the BHF brand as one that attracts college educated, professional, Black men and women as well as the traditional backpacker and gentrifying New York transplant. Because of our ability to attract the former, major industries like auto and insurance are in talks to join the BHF.

And what is the demographic that the auto and insurance industry are looking for? African American parents who identify themselves as Hip-Hop fans. And when you think about it, it makes sense.

This segment has mortgages. Home equity. Savings (some more than others unfortunately). Disposable cash. Budgetary discipline (thanks to our wives). And families. We need SUV's and flood insurance. And we are still Hip-Hop but using Weezy as a spokesperson will not get our business. So where is their point of entry? Through Big Daddy Kane, Brand Nubian, Little Brother and De La Soul.

Sorry for the rambling but the point is there is room for all of us. There is plenty of money and fans to go around. So let’s stop trying to take each other out.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for acknowledging my demographic. Society has a hard time understanding that we exist. They think if you work in corporate america, you can only live your life one way (the buppie/yuppie lifestyle). The have a hard time understanding why you wear jordans and baggy jeans on the weekends....and no, Weezy is not my spokesperson.

January 10, 2007 9:11 AM


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